Captain Amarinder Singh, who had made no secret of his plan to leave the Congress after being removed as Chief Minister of Punjab, today announced the formation of a new political party which would aim to present a "united front" to defeat "the Akali Dal, the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress".
The new party would extend "issue-based" support to the Bharatiya Janata Party and remained open to a seat-sharing agreement if the issues pertaining to the farm laws were resolved to the satisfaction of farmers, he said. “I never said that I will align with the BJP. All I said was that I, my party, will look for a seat-sharing agreement. In military parlance, it's called concentration of forces," he said at a press conference in Chandigarh.
Amarinder Singh said he had applied for a party name and an election symbol, which he would announce after the Election Commission gave its approval. He planned to contest all the 117 seats in Punjab Assembly election scheduled to be held next year. He claimed to have the support of fellow disgruntled legislators.. “We are waiting for the opportune moment. I will not take their names. My supporters are already being harassed,” he said.
The new party has been long coming. Soon after he resigned and Charanjit Singh Channi took over as the first Dalit Chief Minister of the State, Amarinder Singh announced his intention to leave the Congress, a party he had served with distinction for half a century, including nine and a half years as Chief Minister.
He took the opportunity today to highlight his accomplishments as Chief Minister and claimed to have fulfilled “92 per cent of his poll promises”, including generating investment in the State. "All the work we started is simply being carried forward. The issue of land ownership of Lal Doras and slums was started by me, it was a decision of my Cabinet," he said.
The announcement of a new party with the possibility of seat adjustment with the BJP left his opponents reiterating that Amarinder Singh was always a BJP loyalist. Navjot Singh Sidhu, the State Congress president who has had a long battle of attrition with the former Chief Minister, tweeted, "We the 78 MLAs of Congress, could never imagine, what we received an arm-twisted, ED controlled BJP loyal Chief Minister of Punjab @capt_amarinder... who sold the interests of Punjab to save his skin. You were the negative force stalling Justice & development of Punjab."
Amarinder Singh dismissed Sidhu’s criticism, stating, he “just talks on tweets”, and promptly went on to welcome the Centre’s move to extend the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force in the state. "The security forces are professional and are there for our security. They are in no way a threat to the government, nor are they taking over the government in Punjab, so let them do their duty and protect the State and the citizens of India," he emphasised.